Fraud in the News


For the love of fraud

In October 2011, Homeland Security Investigation agents in Gulfport began an investigation after a Mississippi woman contacted law enforcement officers about a "sweetheart scam." The woman received a package in the mail and was asked to reship the merchandise to Pretoria, South Africa, causing the agents to believe the merchandise was bought with fraudulent credit card activity and stolen identifying information.

More than two years later, 15 people have been arrested in an international roundup involving alleged romance scams and work-at-home schemes. The schemes involved fraudulent checks, the takeover of credit card accounts and the shipping and reshipping of money and goods, such as smartphones and tablets, from the U.S. to South Africa and Nigeria. According to the May 20 article, International fraud case will be prosecuted in Gulfport, by Robin Fitzgerald, they will be extradited to Gulfport for prosecution.

Fitzgerald writes, "The alleged conspirators are accused of buying personal identifying information from computer hackers and using mass emailings to contact users of dating websites and people interested in work-at-home jobs." They're charged in an eight-count indictment alleging they were involved in a West African organized-crime enterprise involving complex financial fraud schemes conducted over the Internet and resulting in millions of dollars in losses.

(For more on cybercriminals and scams, see Beware of ‘free' puzzles, collect scam calls and more by Robert Holtfreter, Ph.D., CFE, CICA, in the May/June 2014 issue of Fraud Magazine.)

Case of the missing wallet 

In a bizarre attempt to commit fraud, two middle-aged women approached an elderly woman in the parking lot of a Meijer and told the intended victim they had found a wallet near her car. They asked if it was hers, and when the woman said no, the suspects claimed there was a large amount of money inside.

According to the May 27 article, "Elderly woman targeted in strange fraud attempt," by Gregory Ghering, the suspects "then invited the intended victim to follow them to Walmart and talk with their boss, said to be an attorney, who could give advice about the possibility of keeping the money."

Things seemed to be going as planned for the suspects when the elderly woman made her way to the store. They claimed the boss said they could keep the money if no one claimed it, but that the offer was contingent on her "putting forward as much of her own money as she could," says Ghering. Though she did go to her bank, she changed her mind about giving the suspects the money and didn't meet with them again. Smart lady. (See

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